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A Beautiful November Ride

Friday, November 11th, 2011

The Atlantis in Autumn

November is historically the peak of storm season in Western Washington but it doesn’t really kick in until mid-month. This year appears to be no exception with storm season beginning today, but yesterday was a perfect autumn day.  We are at the point where the trees have fully changed colors, but most of the leaves have yet to fall, leaving them looking like huge smokeless fires.  With daylight savings time having ended this week the sun sets “earlier” and the shadows are longer mid-afternoon.

As seen from the Ship Canal Trail

Riding along the Ship Canal.

This week had become rather unseasonably warm as it progressed and it peaked yesterday with a temps in the upper 50s (f) and clear blue skies.  I sort of dithered around in the morning and early afternoon but finally set out to ramble around the city.  I avoided the Burke-Gillman Trail, opting instead to ride from my place in the U-District to the Fremont Bridge via Wallingford but after crossing the bridge dropped on to the Ship Canal Trail. I think I’ve only ever ridden the SCT once before, typically just sticking with the roads that parallel it, but I wanted to check out the new section they were adding to it.  There is one bit of hazardous street riding you have to do right now to get between the SCT and the Elliot Bay Trail (or the street equivalents thereof) which takes you to the downtown Seattle Waterfront. They’ve been working on a new section of the SCT that’d bypass this little jog on an interchange and I was curious to see that in action.  It wasn’t open for riding on it, but I did take a look at it and it seems to be done with just finishing work going on. When this is in place it’ll definitely make it a lot easier to ride into the city or to West Seattle.

Riding in Discovery Park

Riding the unused roads in Discovery Park.

Magnolia LoopSince I was now in Magnolia I decided to ride around this neighborhood and through Discovery Park. I’d ridden through this area for the first time every about a month ago on a beautiful October day and with the sun already sinking toward the ocean seemed like an ideal route to return to. The signed Magnolia Loop takes you around the neighborhood that sticks out Northwest into the sound from downtown Seattle. The route takes you to Discovery Park, the former site of Fort Lawton. A sort of odd park in that it has a still active federal Radar Station, a selection of old historic buildings and a rather Levittown-esque block of private homes roughly in the middle of the park. The northern portion of the park has a water treatment plant and a lighthouse.  Most of the roads through the park are closed off and make for some nice cycling.

Autumn Leaves

Like a tree of fire.

After you ride through the park the route mostly hugs the coast, much of which is a narrow park with just a few benches but no houses between the edge of the land and the water. This is some nice, easy riding – you have to climb to get to the center of Discovery Park but it’s pretty much all downhill from there. On this route  allowing unobstructed views to the south and west and with the sun heading downwards there is just amazing views over the Olympic Peninsula to the west and Mount Rainier and West Seattle to the South with the Seattle Skyline popping up as you look south eastwards.  Hard to beat.

Mount Rainier and West Seattle

The view to the south of Mount Rainier and West Seattle.

Having made my way around most of Magnolia the route is now inland, through residential and commercial propers that parallels the working train yard and then back on the edge of the ship canal as you head toward the locks. From here the sun is behind the hill of Magnolia and while only twilight wasn’t enough light for my remaining iPhone pictures to come out. Sadly the last time I rode this ride I dropped my camera (the perils of shooting from the saddle) which survived except for the button that allows you to take pictures which was lost. All I’ve got left now for picture taking is my iPhone which alas has too small a sensor for good lowlight pictures.

...and the last light of the setting sun

The Sun Setting Over the Olympic Peninsula.

My ride was nearly over though; I overlapped with a bit of the start of the Magnolia Loop as I headed to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, where you can walk your bicycle across to Ballard. I’ve taken this route a few times but this was the first time that I’ve been there when one of the locks was empty. Alas no picture of that. I then rode through industrial parts of Ballard to Fremont where I visited my favorite end of ride destination: Brouwers Cafe. Here I had a few pints of beer (as I posted on Google+) and what may have been about the best non-pizza post-ride food I’ve had: Porter infused Mac-n-Cheese made with with Fusilli pasta, sharp cheddar and chanterelle mushrooms.  I’m getting hungry just typing that in. It’s looking like we’ll be hunkering down for the late November storms for some time, so I’m glad to have gotten out for this day. It was a good ‘un.

Reach skyward

See all my pictures from this ride, in my Beautiful November Ride set on Flickr.